|Winter Bloom in San Diego
A Pacific Horticulture Tour
February 24-28, 2011
Escorted by Judy Bradley
Tour currently underway.
Bright sunny days and winter showers bring San Diego
gardens into early bloom. Join Pacific Horticulture's
Judy Bradley and tour managers Scott Borden and Jim Bishop exploring a diverse collection of
private gardens including large properties in semi-rural North County, a Sinjen-designed garden
in the heart of the city, the hosts’ own hillside Mediterranean villa, and many more. Tour the
rejuvenated San Diego Botanical Garden (formerly Quail) and take a stroll through the gardens
of Balboa Park. Enjoy welcome & farewell dinners, garden lunches, and a few surprises!
New: Watch Welcome Video
Thursday, February 24: Individual arrivals in San Diego, transfer independently to the
Catamaran Resort Hotel for a four night stay. The bayside property has lush tropical gardens,
exotic birds, and pools of koi. The hotel offers a restaurant, outdoor terrace, pool and spa. It is
located along a wonderful walking path stretching miles around Mission Bay and is one block
from the ocean. There are many shops and restaurants near the hotel. We will gather for
welcome drinks in the garden before our dinner at the hotel. Dinner/welcome drinks.
Friday, February 25: San Diego. We travel the short distance to Mission Hills this morning to
visit the garden of Deborah Szekely, one of San Diego’s best known personalities, and founder
of The Golden Door and Rancho la Puerta Spas. Her garden is a blend of Eastern and Western
styles created in “bits and pieces” over the years. It has broad vistas, multiple terraces, secluded
patios, and series of small rooms including a meditation room. The serene environment includes
fine sculpture and a huge bougainvillea covering parts of the lovely redwood home.
WE continue to the home of local hosts, Scott Borden
and landscape designer Jim Bishop. Set on a hillside
overlooking an urban valley with views from mountains
to the sea, this Mediterranean-style home seamlessly
blends indoor and outdoor living. Using an extensive
palette of climate-appropriate plants, the garden
begins with a colorful street-side planter featuring a
blend of aloes, agaves, and palms. The entry patio
and downstairs mezzanine continue the vibrant drought-
tolerant theme with countless potted plants including
gasterias, euphorbias, and more. A circular stair tower leads to the next level down, a former
pool area, now converted into a garden casita with multiple garden rooms and three fountains.
The casita, tower, and fountains feature decorative Mexican tiles, lending warmth to this peaceful
oasis. Passing through the garden gate leads to the hillside garden where everything has been
hand-built by the garden owners, from stone pathways to dry creek beds to retaining walls made
from wine bottles. Nearly six stories from top to bottom, the garden is full of details and
delightful plant combinations. We will lunch in the garden.
We continue to Balboa Park, with its stunning Spanish Revival architecture and lush gardens. We’
ll take a quick look at the botanical building, lily pond, and the desert garden.
Next we head to Lemon Grove (motto: “The Best Climate on Earth”) to see Jim and Barbara
Hartung’s tropical garden designed by the famous horticulturalist W. F. Sinjen. The owners
have continued Sinjen’s tradition of lacing the plants to allow for light and dense planting. The
plant selection includes palms, flowering trees, philodendrons, bromeliads, camellias and
azaleas. The half-acre urban garden has meandering brick paths, fish ponds and secluded
areas to relax. We return to the hotel with the evening at leisure. Breakfast/lunch
Saturday, February 26: North San Diego County. After a leisurely breakfast, our first stop is
an eclectic garden which began as a bare lot 11 years ago. Designed and planted by owners
Gary Vincent and Wanda Mallen, the two acres are easily walkable and have many different
areas highlighting the owner's various plant interests, including cactus and succulents, conifers,
Australian natives, palms and tropicals. Gary built the many birdhouses and garden structures,
and there is a greenhouse for specialty plants from Africa.
Our next visit will be to the home of Patrick Anderson
and his partner, Les Olson. Patrick's extensive desert-
themed garden has been featured in many national
agazines and books on garden design. Numerous
gravel paths wind through an otherworldly landscape
of succulents and arid-climate plants from around the
globe, complemented by unique works of art. At the
top of the garden, a tile-roofed pavilion provides an
architectural focal point and a shaded retreat from
which to look down on this “dry jungle.” Other features
of the garden include a grove containing 20 varieties of eucalyptus under-planted with shade-
loving natives and a tile-paved entry courtyard complete with a huge vine-draped pergola. The
paths are gravel and the hill is steep, so sturdy walking shoes are a must. We will enjoy a picnic
lunch in the garden.
This afternoon we have a special private tour of San Diego Botanic Garden, set on 30 acres in
the seaside community of Encinitas, home to nearly 3,000 varieties of tropical, subtropical,
desert, and California native plants. Formerly known as Quail Botanical Garden, the gardens
were originally the private estate of Ruth Baird Larabee. Collections include Mediterranean
landscapes, a subtropical fruit orchard, coastal sage scrub, a pinetum, a palm canyon, an
"undersea" succulent garden, a delightful children's garden, and a pan-tropical rain forest with a
60-foot waterfall. Guests enter the garden through a forest of twisted and majestic cork oaks.
Tonight the evening is at leisure. Breakfast/Lunch.
Sunday, February 27: San Diego/Rancho Santa Fe/Del Mar/Solana Beach. Our first garden,
lovingly created and tended by owners Lani and Larry Freymiller, has been evolving for over
36 years. Featured in San Diego Home & Garden, Better Homes & Gardens, and numerous
garden books, it is an intensely personal space. Lani converted a laundry area into an orchid
glass house and later repurposed it into an intimate, open-air sitting area, which is featured in
Debra Prinzing’s Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways. There is a waterfall and lagoon
containing enormous koi with a picturesque rowboat moored at the edge. Faced in 2003 with an
enormous cleanup of eucalyptus trees downed by hurricane-force winds, the Freymillers came
up with a unique solution: cut off the trunks several feet above the ground, then split and stack
the wood to create hedgerows meandering throughout the property. With more space available
and open to the sun, Lani began filling in and developing the discreet rooms created by the
hedgerows. Lani had no particular master plan as the garden evolved over the ensuing years,
but the result clearly shows the eye of an artist and the hands of a master horticulturalist.
Common plants mingle with rare, creating a tapestry that is unique and ever changing. The most
recent addition is a flagstone terrace, inspired by a recent trip to Italy.
Next we’ll head to the beautiful Rancho Valencia Resort for a special Sunday lunch in the
renowned Restaurant. Featuring California Coastal Ranch cuisine, the Restaurant offers fresh,
local produce in an elegant Mediterranean setting. We will enjoy stunning views from the window-
lined main dining room or, if the weather is fine, we will dine al fresco.
After lunch we visit Judy Bradley’s Del Mar garden,
which began life as a blank canvas on a scraped,
lifeless lot in an area of new construction. Initial
landscaping efforts emphasized traditional turf areas,
trees, and shrubs that proved to be high maintenance
and not very user-friendly. Over the past 10 years,
Judy and her husband Dave have been engaged in a
gradual makeover. A sheltering, walled courtyard
replaced the front lawn and expanded their living area,
and bit-by-bit the beds of water-hogging trees, shrubs
and ground cover were replaced with a mix of succulents
and other drought-resistant plant material well-adapted to the local soils and Mediterranean
climate conditions. The existing organic vegetable garden was also re-designed and expanded,
with curving raised beds constructed out of durable and flexible concrete landscape stones. No
garden is ever care free--or ever finished-- but Judy feels that this is about as good as it gets in
terms of having a low-maintenance garden that provides year round color, texture, and interest
thanks to the variety of succulent material and garden art scattered throughout. And she is
finding that she can be away traveling even weeks at a time and not have to fret about the
survival of her garden.
Our next stop is in the neighboring community of Solana Beach, where we will view a garden
which has been a labor of love over 30 years in the making. Erik and Irina Gronborg have
created a compact world tour in a series of garden rooms surrounding their charming home.
Enjoy artistic interpretations of classical European, Japanese, Chinese, and Islamic garden
design and marvel at the whimsy to be found in the Italian Vista, Great Wall, Zen, and Tall Grass
Prairie gardens. Featured in many national publications and brimming with art, Erik and Irina's
garden is a feast for the senses.
Breakfast/Lunch. Recommended Reading
Monday, February 28: San Diego. Transfer independently to the airport. Breakfast.
For information please contact
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San Diego, CA 92106 Tel: 619 299-3010 800-976-9497